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As always, I watch what was previously on TCM after everyone else. Last night I watched Bette Midler's 1980 concert film DIVINE MADNESS. I've always liked Bette Midler's persona, her singing & her acting. She's a larger-than-life performer, the likes of which you don't see anymore. But I've never seen her in concert, how she can hold an audience.

First I was struck by how attractive she is-shining eyes, bright smile, lots of bouncy energy. Then I listened to her singing-she's a powerful, expressive singer with lots of inflection & emotion to her voice. But her voice is not pretty. She has the same stage command as Barbra Streisand, but without a beautiful sound quality. Midler is mostly a bombastic Broadway style singer(like Merman) but she can bring a softer sensitivity to her voice at times too.

The concert includes several monologues & musings which are cute & give her a break from all the energy she puts out. She also makes several costume changes, all part of her unique entertaining qualities. Her humor reminded me of Mae West -rather bawdy- with lots of focus on her bewbs. Her energetic performance touches the audience who reacts effusively.....comprised of at least 90% gay men.  I'm not a man, but was swept up with her too -making me wonder why bawdy women charactors appeal so much to gay men? I don't know any hetero men who like Midler, most find her loud, obnoxious & homely (!) I love her but was a bit turned off by her comments that focus on her body, just not quite as acceptable 40 years later.

I definitely think Bette Midler is a super talent who has dedicated so much of her life to entertainment. While I enjoyed seeing her early concert footage, seeing crowds having a communal experience wrapped up in music & performance was a little depressing. 

At this point seeing her movie roles might be more satisfying. 

220px-Divine_Madness_poster.jpg

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1 hour ago, TikiSoo said:

I don't know any hetero men who like Midler,

I am hetero and I always found her sexy, she had some nice curves and a fun, energetic personality. One of my favorite films she did was the wacky farce Big Business (1988), she and Lily Tomlin play two sets of twins switched at birth who meet up by chance years later.

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I watched the 1935 UNIVERSAL version of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, starring CLAUDE RAINS, DOUGLASS MONTGOMERY and (in a part that surely signaled his leading days were up) DAVID MANNERS

Mystery-of-Edwin-Drood-Universal-1935.jp

I watched it online and the print was slightly fuzzy, which is a shame, because it is interesting to watch UNIVERSAL FILMS OF THE 1930'S- that seemed to be a time when the studio was really willing to be a competitor to MGM and WB and put its money where its mouth was with the sets and scores (as opposed to their mantra from the 1940's on: "REDUCE, RE-USE, RECYCLE!")

It's an added plus that this movie obviously re-uses a lot of the sets from THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN and we see them from some interesting new angles (and with some really excellent matte paintings or possibly a backdrop.)

I wish JAMES WHALE had directed this and I wish UNA O'CONNOR and ERNEST THESIGER had roles. as it is though, it's still pretty good, CLAUDE RAINS is very good (I don't think, oddly, he ever looked YOUNGER in a film) and they somehow found a way to portray the character's opium addiction a year into the production code. His singing is REALLY OBVIOUSLY DUBBED THOUGH.

VALERIE HOBSON- aged 15 and in the same year that she did WEREWOLF OF LONDON and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN- has a really pointless role in this film and her part could easily have been cut, although she does get the final shot of the film.

DOUGLASS MONTGOMERY is REALLY WEIRD-LOOKING and he is not good in part of his role, but excellent in another (no spoilers.)

TCM showed this at least once, a while back, it would be great to see it again (and a good print.)

I

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Meant to come here yesterday but got tied up with something.

The night before I watched(on Movies! I think) a 1951 feature called CATTLE DRIVE with JOEL McREA and DEAN STOCKWELL.  After about a half hour or 45 minutes It struck me that this was a Western version of CAPTAINS CORAGEOUS except it turned out that McRea's Manuel type character didn't die.  And luckily, the writers had the good sense to NOT have McRea constantly refer to Stockwell as "the little dogie".  ;) 

I didn't think it was all that bad.  I have seen worse.  Much worse.

Sepiatone

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1 hour ago, Sepiatone said:

Meant to come here yesterday but got tied up with something.

The night before I watched(on Movies! I think) a 1951 feature called CATTLE DRIVE with JOEL McREA and DEAN STOCKWELL.  After about a half hour or 45 minutes It struck me that this was a Western version of CAPTAINS CORAGEOUS except it turned out that McRea's Manuel type character didn't die.  And luckily, the writers had the good sense to NOT have McRea constantly refer to Stockwell as "the little dogie".  ;) 

I didn't think it was all that bad.  I have seen worse.  Much worse.

Sepiatone

That's interesting, I did not know that McREA and STOCKWELL made another film together besides STARS IN MY CROWN (1950) [which is excellent.]

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Just now, speedracer5 said:

I loved the scene where he lined up on wrong side of the scrimmage line. And I also loved it when Harold literally became the team tackling dummy.  What was that thing he was wearing on his nose? Were there nose guards in the 1920s? Before face masks, was there a combination nose/mouth guard? Harold seemed to be the only one wearing it.  I believe that The Freshman was the first sports film.  

I also loved the scene at the Fall Frolic where Harold's suit kept falling apart and the tailor was trying to discreetly sew it back together.

There are so many funny scenes and set-ups. And for most of the movie Harold is unaware that people

are laughing behind his back at his over the top Joe College routine. But all ends well and his sweetheart

loves him. 

 

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I watched 1943 PHANTOM OF THE OPERA. 
Earns An  “A” for effort, but otherwise eh. 

5’7 CLAUDE RAINS plays a sadistic strangler, who in one scene, murders two women in the same room one after the other.. I personally don’t think Claude Raines would last one round against EDNA MAE OLIVER, but he was a good actor. 
God NELSON EDDY SUCKS. 
the CHANDELIER CRASH is lacking, I think they used an animation effect and it cuts away from the “money shot”- so to speak. 
Too much music, too bright, and kind of goofy.

 

 

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A Lovely Way to Die (1968).

Kirk Douglas (or somebody close to him) must have watched Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome and decided that what Kirk needed to do was play a mod late 60s detective.

A wealthy man (he gets bumped off early so I don't remember the actor who played him) bickers with his Trophy Wife (Random European Actress Hollywood Was Trying to Promote, this one named Sylva Koscina from Croatia).  Later that evening, as the husband is diving off a diving board, he's shot and killed by a sniper!  Trophy Wife has a boyfriend, so those two are accused of the crime, and Fish Out of Water Southern Attorney (Eli Wallach) defends her at trial.

The attorney wants the two defendants to stay away from each other, so he hires Kirk, the Unorthodox Police Detective, to play a sort of bodyguard to Trophy Wife.  Kirk does some investigating which gets him into trouble, and eventually figures out what really happened.

There's some stylish fashion and set design, but the plot and acting are a mess as it's full of Stock Characters.  I got this one on the Kirk Douglas "Centennial Collection" of eight of his films, and the price was right, so having one dud out of the set isn't a tragedy.

5/10

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2 hours ago, Vautrin said:

There are so many funny scenes and set-ups. And for most of the movie Harold is unaware that people

are laughing behind his back at his over the top Joe College routine. But all ends well and his sweetheart

loves him. 

 

I loved the part when his classmate asked him for $10, Harold gave it to him, then his tailor's arms stole it back! 

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Just now, speedracer5 said:

I loved the part when his classmate asked him for $10, Harold gave it to him, then his tailor's arms stole it back! 

There are some details I don't recall because the last time I saw it was a year or two ago. I'll be watching

the next time it shows up on TCM.

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16 hours ago, TikiSoo said:

Her humor reminded me of Mae West -rather bawdy- with lots of focus on her bewbs. Her energetic performance touches the audience who reacts effusively.....comprised of at least 90% gay men.  I'm not a man, but was swept up with her too -making me wonder why bawdy women charactors appeal so much to gay men? I don't know any hetero men who like Midler, most find her loud, obnoxious & homely (!)

Actually, that IS the secret of her, um, "niche" appeal, like their equally unexplained preoccupation with Joan Rivers.  The brassy, unappealing, coarse, no-dignity image to feel safer about objectifying biological females with.

And I'm not a fan of her stage act, but she's funny in movie roles, and had all the Broadway chops for that '93 made-for-TV remake of Gypsy:

But yes, when I saw Mae West (whom I also hadn't seen much of nor been interested in) teaching school in My Little Chickadee, my first reaction was "Yep...Bette was taking notes."

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Last night I watched 1942's MRS MINIVER on TCM. It had been a long time since I had watched it, but remembered it as being very good, rather shocking and very dramatic, which was reinforced by last night's viewing.

This is an MGM Americanized story of what life was like for the average family living in the outlying areas surrounding London in the throes of WW2. In contrast to the  charactor study of the British film THIS HAPPY BREED '44 of the lull between the wars, Mrs Miniver tells the story of life for those right in the crosshairs of German bombing attacks.

Since this is an MGM production, sets and effects were top notch & arresting. I had completely forgotten the dramatic "boats to Dunkirk" scene where the river was filled solid with civilians driving their personal boats to the open ocean to assist & rescue fallen sailors. There were several difficult-to-watch scenes, most notably the air raid & harrowing bunker scenes. But those Brits bravely carried on. 

I remember this movie to be a downer and it would be unwatchable except for the unwavering strength & determination of the principle charactors, representing all the British Empire. Best fleshed out role I've ever seen of  Henry Travers' career and Dame May Witty is also superb. It's also a great vehicle for favorite Theresa Wright, but she just plays the same sweet girl we expect. Greer Garson's brings her unique elegance & serenity to her charactor that holds the family (and townspeople) together. I especially love the scene where she confronts/dismisses Witty's upper class insults.

The ending scene of the townspeople gathered in an open air bombed out church and the religious leader's encouraging words are inspiring, melting away some of the sadness you feel for those "lost"in the recent bombing raid.

This viewing was just the ticket-inspiring inner strength to "carry on" throughout all the depressing events happening in our nation right now.

 

399px-Mrs._Miniver_(1942_poster_-_Style_

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28 minutes ago, TikiSoo said:

Last night I watched 1942's MRS MINIVER on TCM. It had been a long time since I had watched it, but remembered it as being very good, rather shocking and very dramatic, which was reinforced by last night's viewing.

This is an MGM Americanized story of what life was like for the average family living in the outlying areas surrounding London in the throes of WW2. In contrast to the  charactor study of the British film THIS HAPPY BREED '44 of the lull between the wars, Mrs Miniver tells the story of life for those right in the crosshairs of German bombing attacks.

Since this is an MGM production, sets and effects were top notch & arresting. I had completely forgotten the dramatic "boats to Dunkirk" scene where the river was filled solid with civilians driving their personal boats to the open ocean to assist & rescue fallen sailors. There were several difficult-to-watch scenes, most notably the air raid & harrowing bunker scenes. But those Brits bravely carried on. 

I remember this movie to be a downer and it would be unwatchable except for the unwavering strength & determination of the principle charactors, representing all the British Empire. Best fleshed out role I've ever seen of  Henry Travers' career and Dame May Witty is also superb. It's also a great vehicle for favorite Theresa Wright, but she just plays the same sweet girl we expect. Greer Garson's brings her unique elegance & serenity to her charactor that holds the family (and townspeople) together. I especially love the scene where she confronts/dismisses Witty's upper class insults.

The ending scene of the townspeople gathered in an open air bombed out church and the religious leader's encouraging words are inspiring, melting away some of the sadness you feel for those "lost"in the recent bombing raid.

This viewing was just the ticket-inspiring inner strength to "carry on" throughout all the depressing events happening in our nation right now.

 

399px-Mrs._Miniver_(1942_poster_-_Style_

Great review! 
I admit to being kind of iffy on MRS MINIVER- But by chance one day on TCM I caught THE MINIVER STORY- A 1950s sequel to the film that was a flop at the box office, In spite of repairing Walter Pidgeon and Greer Garson.
I actually liked it quite a bit better, it has a very surreal dream like quality and there is a rather shocking plot development that you don’t see coming.

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edwindrood2.jpg?w=584

I realize that in my review yesterday of THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD (1935)- I neglected to mention actress ZEFFIE TILBURY as THE OPIUM WOMAN, who was really terrific and- in another amazing bucking of the recently eneacted HAYES CODE- VERY CLEARLY faces the camera and  MOUTHS THE WORD "SH!T!" in frustration in a scene early on where RAINS'S JOHN JASPER stiffs her on payment. there is NO MISTAKING IT.

Also notable (book and film) is the character of the gravedigger DURDLES, a hopeless drunkard who pays a local boy to throw stones at him in order to sober him up enough to walk home at night. That one detail is about as DICKENSY as it gets and is why I am a fan of Charles's.

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10 hours ago, EricJ said:

Actually, that IS the secret of her, um, "niche" appeal, like their equally unexplained preoccupation with Joan Rivers.  The brassy, unappealing, coarse, no-dignity image to feel safer about objectifying biological females with.

And I'm not a fan of her stage act, but she's funny in movie roles, and had all the Broadway chops for that '93 made-for-TV remake of Gypsy:

But yes, when I saw Mae West (whom I also hadn't seen much of nor been interested in) teaching school in My Little Chickadee, my first reaction was "Yep...Bette was taking notes."

But if I gotta hear that tune, I prefer---  ;) 

Sepiatone

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On 9/29/2020 at 8:28 AM, TikiSoo said:

As always, I watch what was previously on TCM after everyone else. Last night I watched Bette Midler's 1980 concert film DIVINE MADNESS. I've always liked Bette Midler's persona, her singing & her acting. She's a larger-than-life performer, the likes of which you don't see anymore. But I've never seen her in concert, how she can hold an audience.

First I was struck by how attractive she is-shining eyes, bright smile, lots of bouncy energy. Then I listened to her singing-she's a powerful, expressive singer with lots of inflection & emotion to her voice. But her voice is not pretty. She has the same stage command as Barbra Streisand, but without a beautiful sound quality. Midler is mostly a bombastic Broadway style singer(like Merman) but she can bring a softer sensitivity to her voice at times too.

The concert includes several monologues & musings which are cute & give her a break from all the energy she puts out. She also makes several costume changes, all part of her unique entertaining qualities. Her humor reminded me of Mae West -rather bawdy- with lots of focus on her bewbs. Her energetic performance touches the audience who reacts effusively.....comprised of at least 90% gay men.  I'm not a man, but was swept up with her too -making me wonder why bawdy women charactors appeal so much to gay men? I don't know any hetero men who like Midler, most find her loud, obnoxious & homely (!) I love her but was a bit turned off by her comments that focus on her body, just not quite as acceptable 40 years later.

I definitely think Bette Midler is a super talent who has dedicated so much of her life to entertainment. While I enjoyed seeing her early concert footage, seeing crowds having a communal experience wrapped up in music & performance was a little depressing. 

At this point seeing her movie roles might be more satisfying. 

220px-Divine_Madness_poster.jpg

I remember seeing this when it came out. It feels weird to watch it now as so much of the humor is dated (talking about Prince Charles etc.) Hard to believe its been 40 years. Her shows actually became better and more lavish after this. She had a cold when she did the taping (over several nights) so her voice was a bit ragged. She's getting up there and with Covid, I wonder if she'll ever do a tour again. Too bad. She puts on a great show.

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12 hours ago, EricJ said:

Actually, that IS the secret of her, um, "niche" appeal, like their equally unexplained preoccupation with Joan Rivers.  The brassy, unappealing, coarse, no-dignity image to feel safer about objectifying biological females with.

And I'm not a fan of her stage act, but she's funny in movie roles, and had all the Broadway chops for that '93 made-for-TV remake of Gypsy:

But yes, when I saw Mae West (whom I also hadn't seen much of nor been interested in) teaching school in My Little Chickadee, my first reaction was "Yep...Bette was taking notes."

Not to mention her Tony award winning turn in Hello, Dolly! just a few seasons ago on Broadway which broke all box office records at the Shubert.

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17 hours ago, Fedya said:

A Lovely Way to Die (1968).

Kirk Douglas (or somebody close to him) must have watched Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome and decided that what Kirk needed to do was play a mod late 60s detective.

A wealthy man (he gets bumped off early so I don't remember the actor who played him) bickers with his Trophy Wife (Random European Actress Hollywood Was Trying to Promote, this one named Sylva Koscina from Croatia).  Later that evening, as the husband is diving off a diving board, he's shot and killed by a sniper!  Trophy Wife has a boyfriend, so those two are accused of the crime, and Fish Out of Water Southern Attorney (Eli Wallach) defends her at trial.

The attorney wants the two defendants to stay away from each other, so he hires Kirk, the Unorthodox Police Detective, to play a sort of bodyguard to Trophy Wife.  Kirk does some investigating which gets him into trouble, and eventually figures out what really happened.

There's some stylish fashion and set design, but the plot and acting are a mess as it's full of Stock Characters.  I got this one on the Kirk Douglas "Centennial Collection" of eight of his films, and the price was right, so having one dud out of the set isn't a tragedy.

5/10

I saw this one at a second run theatre a few months after it came out because I liked Kirk Douglas but I knew the actor was slumming it with this material.

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21 hours ago, Fedya said:

A Lovely Way to Die (1968).

Kirk Douglas (or somebody close to him) must have watched Frank Sinatra in Tony Rome and decided that what Kirk needed to do was play a mod late 60s detective.

A wealthy man (he gets bumped off early so I don't remember the actor who played him) bickers with his Trophy Wife (Random European Actress Hollywood Was Trying to Promote, this one named Sylva Koscina from Croatia).  Later that evening, as the husband is diving off a diving board, he's shot and killed by a sniper!  Trophy Wife has a boyfriend, so those two are accused of the crime, and Fish Out of Water Southern Attorney (Eli Wallach) defends her at trial.

The attorney wants the two defendants to stay away from each other, so he hires Kirk, the Unorthodox Police Detective, to play a sort of bodyguard to Trophy Wife.  Kirk does some investigating which gets him into trouble, and eventually figures out what really happened.

There's some stylish fashion and set design, but the plot and acting are a mess as it's full of Stock Characters.  I got this one on the Kirk Douglas "Centennial Collection" of eight of his films, and the price was right, so having one dud out of the set isn't a tragedy.

5/10

Unfortunately (thanks to the title), this was the last film I saw of Kirk Douglas's before he died..... :unsure: it does have a bit of a TV feel to it.....

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